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The Bnei David Pre-Army Academy (mechina) in Eli has been awarded the Menachem Begin Heritage Prize for 2007 for "imbuing thousands of youth with the Jewish Zionist spirit."
During a ceremony on the last night of Hanukka, the awards committee stated that the academy, established in 1987, has succeeded in "raising a generation of students who, with faith and dedication to the Jewish people and the defense of the Land of Israel, contribute significantly through complete military service in Israel's army."
Over 50 percent of Bnei David's several thousand graduates have served as officers, some in senior command positions, and most have served and are serving in combat units and elite units.
One of the academy's graduates is Major Roi Klein, who was killed during the Second Lebanon War and who has since become a paradigm of Jewish military bravery. Klein, who served as deputy battalion commander, saved his soldiers by flinging himself on a Hizbullah grenade to absorb the brunt of the explosion. Klein received the Medal of Valor posthumously.
Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan, head of the IDF Planning Directorate, awarded the prize to the bereaved parents of Klein and Lt.-Col. Emanuel Morano, another Eli graduate killed in Lebanon who served in a classified, elite commando unit.
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